Washington, Oct. 11 - Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, was behind a plot to blow up the Israeli and Saudi Arabian embassies in Washington and murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, U.S. officials announced today.
Two men originally from Iran allegedly behind the conspiracy - Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri - were charged in New York today (Oct. 11). Shakuri is part of Iran’s elite Quds Force, a branch of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that conducts terrorist activities abroad. Shakuri is at large; Arbabsiar, who holds dual Iran-U.S. citizenship, was arrested in September.
Federal officials announced the plot today (Oct. 11) when they unsealed a criminal complaint against the two men.
According to a U.S. Justice Department statement, the two men have been charged with “conspiracy to murder a foreign official; conspiracy to engage in foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives); and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries.”
Additionally, Arbabsiar is charged with one count of “foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.”
“The criminal complaint unsealed today exposes a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil with explosives,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Through the diligent and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we were able to disrupt this plot before anyone was harmed.”
Said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, “The investigation leading to today’s charges illustrates both the challenges and complexities of the international threat environment.” Had the plot not been foiled, he said in a televised press conference, “many lives would have been lost.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” denied that the Holocaust occurred and often makes statements condemning Israel and the West. Ahmadinejad also has suggested that 9/11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden was a U.S. conspiracy.